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Kitchen Design/Remodeling/countertop gap at center of the sink

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First of all thank you for making yourself available to answer our questions! =)
I was told by a family member that this handyman is a friend, very professional, and registered.  But I have grown very concern at the quality of his work.
At the centre of my kitchen sink there is a joint of the countertop material (please see picture).
Being right next to a sink and all, water has managed to seep in and now the material below had swelled up.  I have a toddler and I am very worried about mold growth inside the counter.  Is there anything i can do to waterproof this area to prevent mold growth?  Do I need to hire someone to redo the entire countertop?  And is this the "right" and professional way to install the countertop and sink in the first place?  
I am very concern about the workmanship because he has done work on many other areas of our house.  There was some uneven bumps in the hardwood floor he laid which he said is a result of me spilling water into.  Also a front door lock that didnt align with the hole in the frame that he said resulted from our door "sinking" on one side.  Do I need to find someone to look over my entire house?

Answer
Hello, Trinn.

You're very welcome -- hope I can help you. I'm so sorry that you've had these problems!  

You have a right to be concerned about the quality of work that the handyman has sold you. I know how you must feel -- betrayed and frustrated.

I cannot think of a good remedy for the swelling of the countertop substrate.   We try to avoid seams near to a sink, just for these reasons.  Caulking the crack is a temporary measure, at best, and presents other serious problems. You may, in fact, have to replace the countertop to eliminate the problem and prevent growth of mold.

From the examples you've stated, it sounds like the current handyman doesn't want to accept responsibility for anything.  The problems with the countertop, floor, and the door lock sound like they're caused by him not doing correct preparatory work, not double-checking existing conditions before he started, and not thinking about the results.

My recommendation: fire the handyman immediately! Don't let him do any more work on your home. Send a certified letter, explaining why you're firing him, and keep a copy of the letter. If you have a local building department, check with them to see what legal remedies you might have. You might be able to make a claim against his bond (if he has one). Definitely, document all of the problems with more pictures, and file a formal complaint against him -- with the building department, and the Better Business Bureau.

The next step is to get a referral to a qualified contractor, through the building department, or through a building/remodeling association. Make sure that you get and check references for anyone who's referred to you, and double-check licensing, insurance, and bonding. And, get an agreement that states what the contractor will do, what materials he'll provide, and his fee to complete the work.

Everything will work out, ultimately. Sending you warmest wishes for good luck, and good health.

Diane Plesset, CMKBD, NCIDQ, C.A.P.S.
D. P. Design (http://www.dp-design.com)
Author of "THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling"
Host of "Today's Home" Internet Radio Program (http://www.todays-home.com)

Kitchen Design/Remodeling

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Diane Plesset

Expertise

I will answer questions about kitchen design, remodeling: appliances, cabinets, countertops, lighting/switching, accessible kitchens, kitchens for multiple cooks, kitchen trends, flooring, windows and doors, ventilation, safety, function, and style.

Experience

25+ years as a kitchen designer; over 10 years as a Certified Master Kitchen-Bath Designer. Hundreds of projects completed, in all styles, all ranges of investment. Multiple design awards and published articles (see below). Public speaker and lecturer about home remodeling. Co-host of a local radio program for over three years, currently the host of "Today's Home" on Lifetime WebRadio every Sunday afternoon (website: http://www.todays-home.com)

Organizations
NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association); NAHB (National Association of Home Builders); PRO (Portland Remodelers' Organization); IDPC (Interior Design Protection Council)

Publications
"THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling" (book published in 2003), Gentry Magazine, Designers' Illustrated Magazine, Interior Coordinator Magazine (Japan); San Jose Mercury News, San Mateo Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Oregonian, Statesman Journal Newspapers.

Education/Credentials
Multiple degrees, including bathroom design, kitchen design, lighting design, and residential interior design. Classes and seminars attended frequently, to maintain current knowledge about products, trends, codes, and technology.

Awards and Honors
Multiple certifications: Certified Master Kitchen-Bath Designer (NKBA), Certified Interior Designer (NCIDQ, National Council of Interior Design Qualification), and Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (NAHB). Awards include: Henry Adams Designer of the Year, CoTY, Master Design, Chrysalis, Best of the Best, Excellence (Best home in its category), and NABE (Best how-to book, 2003).

Past/Present Clients
To see photos of completed projects, please visit my website: http://www.dp-design.com/portfolio

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